Approaching Sunday

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Preparing to Worship Our Heavenly, Hallowed Father

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This week pastor Shaun will be preaching through the portion of the Lord’s prayer where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt 6:9b).

I want to do something a bit different on our blog this week. I want to remind you of the purpose of this blog and give you a challenge. First, a few quick notes from this text that will build the foundation for what I am about to tell you.

God is Father

This was revolutionary in the time of Jesus. Jesus teaches his disciples to approach the God of the cosmos as Father. Think of the intimacy! The Father, through the Son made it possible for His people to approach Him as “Dearest Father.” This is like “daddy,” but with a more reverent touch. This should invoke in us this desire to draw near to God and be grateful for Jesus, our Mediator.

God is in Heaven

To ensure that the disciples did not over sentimentalize or abuse this new-found truth of approaching God as “Dearest Father,” Jesus reminds them of the majesty of God. We have a difficult time with balance. We tend to fall on either side of the ditch and we certainly could in this prayer. We would either strip God of all his holiness and dismiss any reverence we have for Him simply because Jesus instructs us to call Him Father, or we would fail to draw near to him because He seems so distant to us. So, Jesus knows we have a difficult time with balance and he gives the disciples and us what we need. He emphasizes God’s immanence with the words “Our Father” and He emphasizes God’s transcendence with the words “in heaven.” Jesus gives us the perfect balance if we only listen.

Hallowed Be Your Name

God is wholly-other, meaning that God is completely different than anything else. We need not forget this. Our temptation is to humanize God, casting our emotions and imperfections onto Him when we think and speak of Him. Pastor Shaun this week will teach us that God is separate. He will use a few Scriptures that I want to invite you to meditate on as we draw near to the Lord’s Day:

Nahum 1:5
The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it.

James 2:19
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Revelation 7:10-12
Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

Now, the reason for this blog (and I will keep this brief). This isn’t to give you additional information. It is to prepare your hearts for the Lord’s Day. For some of you, the first time you think about the sermon or the worship music on Sunday is right before the service starts. There is no way for you to receive what God has for you if you aren’t engaging with the coming Lord’s Day prayerfully as you move through your week. Use this blog that is posted every Thursday as a means to set your mind and attention on worshiping corporately each coming Sunday. Here are a few practical suggestions for you as you seek to do that:

  1. Read the text we are preaching on each day.
  2. Pray through the text each week.
  3. Take advantage of the resources we post for you online.
  4. Get your family to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night so you’re awake and refreshed on Sunday.
  5. Get to the church service on time and spend time praying with your family beforehand.
  6. Sit toward the front so you’re not distracted by latecomers.
  7. Conclude your time at Coastal by thanking God for His Word.

 May the Lord bless you as we approach Sunday.

Order of Service

As It Is In Heaven
Our God Reigns (Psalm 97; Hebrews 13:8)
Lord of All (Psalm 24:1)
Offertory
Restoration (Revelation 21:1-5)
Sermon: Our Father by Pastor Shaun (Matthew 6:9)

Posted by Joey Tomlinson with

When You Pray

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As Pastor Shaun begins our series from the Lord’s Prayer, he will start with some background in place to help us gain a better understanding of what Jesus was teaching His disciples. Was this simply a pattern prayer to be repeated by generations to come or was there more? We want to learn not only what Jesus said the prayer should include, but also what he was teaching about prayer itself.

In verse 1 of chapter 6 Jesus says plainly “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.” He goes on to talk about those who make it a point to be noticed for their compassionate giving to others, being sure to draw attention to their philanthropy. It really goes to motivation. Did you notice the phrase “in order to?” When our purpose is to be noticed, something must change. Having mentioned the danger of wanting to be seen for our righteous activities, Jesus turns to one of the pivotal parts of the Christian life; our prayer life. He gives 2 warnings.

  1. Don’t pray to be seen (verses 5-6). Jesus describes in these verses, a person who makes sure their praying is seen in public (in the synagogue or even on the street corner). His point is not that we should not ever pray publicly, but that our desire in our prayer life should not be for others to see how spiritual we are. The point is, prayer is designed to be a private conversation between my heavenly Father and me. It is not intended to display my spiritual prowess.
  2. Don’t pray to be heard (verses 7-8). There were those (often the Pharisees) who felt themselves very advanced in prayer and would stand in the synagogue, piously repeating, with great skill, prayers designed to impress people with the spiritual prowess of the one praying. Jesus’ point is that it doesn’t impress God. He also mentions the piling up of “empty phrases.” Repetition in our prayer life can be a useful tool to help us remember various truths about God or to focus our attention on some biblical truths as we learn and grow in our prayer life. In fact, many people repeat the Lord’s Prayer on a regular basis. Jesus is not teaching against any and all forms of repetition. However, the goal is not to sound impressive, rather to speak from our heart to the heart of our heavenly Father.

When we go in our Bibles to Luke 11, we find a new setting. The first couple of verses let us know that it was in the context of a prayer time that Jesus was having with His disciples. As they finished, and as the Lord Himself finished praying, one of the disciples requested that Jesus give them some instruction on prayer. Jesus responds to His disciples and says, “when you pray…”

That little 3-word phrase, is significant. It is the title the first message in our series on prayer. I think it is as simple as this: Jesus, when He teaches on prayer, assumes that the people were already praying. This was not a new habit that needed to be developed. It was not a new discipline being introduced. It was to be understood as an ordinary practice of the Christian life.

If someone were to ask me how to communicate with their spouse, I would not begin with, “you need to start by talking to them.” It is self-evident that if you want to have effective communication with your spouse, you need to be talking with them already. I heard the story of a couple that once came to a marriage counselor where the wife complained, “he never tells me he loves me.” When the counselor asked the man why this was true, he answered “I told her I loved her when we got married. If I ever change my mind, I’ll let her know!” Not cool.

If I want my prayer life to become more effective, the first and most important step is to begin praying. The initial steps in prayer seem a little awkward because we are not used to doing it, but as we practice the art of talking with God and sharing our heart with Him, we learn to become more comfortable with the whole idea. Prayer is not primarily about listing our requests and desires and waiting for the answers to come. Prayer is an ongoing, relationship-building conversation with our heavenly Father in which we learn to get into the flow of God’s purposes. If I only come to God to talk with Him when something changes (i.e., a new life experience takes place, something comes up, a bad circumstance happens), I’ll never learn to pray effectively.

So, the instruction of Jesus is actually quite simple. It is not, “you should start praying and this is how it goes.” His instruction is, “when you pray, keep it simple, keep it focused on the glory of God and do it as an integral part of your relationship with Him, not as an opportunity for others to see how advanced you have become in your spiritual life.”

Posted by David Wilson with

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